Lessons I’ve Learned About Supporting a Friend With Depression

Dear Past Self,

You have a certain idea about what “depression” looks like. You imagine someone dressed in black and staring at the floor, or maybe someone binge drinking alone in a messy apartment. You think of depression as something other, something that doesn’t happen to people you know, people you care about. This isn’t your fault—your whole life, the 1990’s/early 2000’s media has portrayed depression as something distant, something extreme, something easily recognizable that doesn’t affect most people (when they talk about it at all, which is also rare).

Media Portrayal of Depression


In reality, Past Self, depression actually does affect most people: even those who don’t struggle with depression likely have a friend or family member that does:



Moreover, Past Self, despite what you’ve been led to believe, depression does not all look the same. It comes in thousands of different forms.

Sometimes, depression can look like having fun.


Sometimes, depression can look like apathy:

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Lessons I’ve Learned About Supporting an Anxious Friend (With Pictures)

Dear Past Self,

As you are probably already aware, you have many people who struggle with anxiety in your life. For some, that anxiety is a chronic challenge; for others, it only flares up in unusual circumstances.

Being a friend to someone who is going through an anxious period can feel challenging.  I hope that some of the learnings I’ve picked up in this arena can help you be a more effective support system for your anxious friend.

Of course, the first step in supporting someone dealing with anxiety is to acknowledge that their anxiety is real. This should go without saying, but because of the world we live in, I will say it anyway:

When somebody says they are feeling seriously anxious or panicking, believe them. 

No, they are not making it up.*  No, they are not just being “dramatic.”




Once you acknowledge your friend’s anxiety is real, it can be hard to know what to do or say. It’s easy to feel like you’ve said or done the wrong thing.

The truth is, Past Self, there isn’t always one “right thing” to say to someone struggling with anxiety. But over the years, I’ve learned that there are definitely some things you should avoid.

For example: when somebody tells you they’re feeling anxious it’s easy to get freaked out. Unfortunately, this freaking out in front of an already-anxious person is rarely helpful:



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How To Deal With The World When It Goes Crazy (With Pictures)

Dear Past Self,

I wish I could tell you that here, in the future, everything is rainbows and unicorns and perfectly seasoned guacamole. Unfortunately, the world is not like that. Crazy things will happen in your lifetime: there’ll be natural disasters and political disasters, terrorism and nationalism, murder videos on live t.v. and towns without drinking water.

When these events happen, Past Self, it can feel overwhelming. Sometimes the state of the world can be so stressful that it makes you want to curl up in a bed and not come out.

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Your Friendly, Neighborhood Fear Fairy

Dear Past Self,

A few years ago, I realized that Fear was holding me back from achieving my goals. Not because I’d had any particularly horrible experiences–I wasn’t traumatized by an attacked, or deathly afraid of spiders, or trapped on a reality t.v. show. But I realized that my average, everyday fears were preventing me fro doing some of the things I wanted in life. So I made a New Year’s Resolution to face my fears. I figured I would face my fears, conquer them, and then walk into the sunset of my happier, more fulfilling life.

Looking back, though, I think I was thinking about fear all wrong.

See, I used to think of fear as a giant monster, one standing in the way. Like most people, I thought that facing fear was a matter of standing up to this enormous monster and conquering it in order to get what I wanted.

The Fear Monster

*For those who don’t know, turtle farts smell really bad.


However, after spending some time facing my fears, I began to realize that fear wasn’t a gigantic, poorly-drawn monster terrorizing my brain. Fear doesn’t always strike is obvious ways. Usually, Fear is more subtle. Instead of terrible, horrific strikes, fear often presents itself as calm, rational, even friendly. It’s less like a raging monster and more like a friendly fairy.

Yes, a fairy.

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Dear Past Self: You’re Not a Party Person

Dear Past Self,

I know it may be tough to hear this, but somebody has to break the news: you are not a party person.

I know. Take a breath. Sit down. Eat a bowl of guacamole. Then read it again.

You are not a party person.

How do I know this? Well, because I’ve been to a party Past Self. In fact, I’ve been to quite a few of them. And while you may be good at some things, I have ample evidence to prove that parties are just not your strong suit.

For one thing, unlike normal humans, you have a tough time socializing with other people when there is food present.


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Dealing with Impostor Syndrome

I graduated from college feeling pretty good about joining the world of working adults. Sure, I didn’t have a set plan for my life, but I’d lucked my way into a job I was actually super excited about. I felt like I was ready to be done with school, and that the workforce would be a welcome change of pace.

Unfortunately, joining the workforce didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped.

My deep work-related uncertainty set in pretty early. During my first day “work,” I probably got asked at least twenty questions. I knew the answers to approximately zero of them.


*Questions and answers may or may not have been slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect.

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